Thompson, Vaughn enter record books in 25-24 win over Texas Tech

Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson hands the ball off to running back Deuce Vaughn in the Wildcat's 37-31 loss to Oklahoma on Oct. 2, 2021, at Bill Snyder Family Stadium (Archive photo by Kendall Spencer | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State Wildcats are now 4-3 overall and 1-3 in Big 12 play after defeating Texas Tech on the road in Lubbock, Texas, 25-24 on Saturday.

The Wildcats, led by super-senior quarterback Skylar Thompson, struggled in the first half but were able to rally after scoring 15 unanswered points in the second half to secure the win.

“Everybody was locked in, and everybody was in it for each other,” said Thompson, who had a career-high completion percentage of 80. “It’s a group effort. That’s what’s going to make us successful. We’ve got to keep building. We can never be satisfied. This is a great feeling when everybody contributes, and everyone puts in the work during the week, and we see the hard work pay off.”

Thompson finished the game completing 24-30 passes for 296 yards and a touchdown while also cementing himself in the K-State record books as the only quarterback in K-State history to pass for over 6,000 and rush for over 1,000 over the course of his career.

The day started off rough for the K-State. The defense gave up a touchdown only thirty seconds into the game — a 45-yard rushing touchdown by Erik Ezukanma opened the game for the Red Raiders.

It wouldn’t be two plays later when the Red Raider special teams unit would force a Malik Knowles fumble on K-State’s kick return, quickly turning the tide 14-0 in favor of Texas Tech.

The offense for K-State ran through sophomore running back Deuce Vaughn throughout the contest.

Vaughn carried the ball 15 times for 52 yards and two touchdowns while also hauling in seven receptions for 68 yards and a third touchdown through the air. Vaughn was the only Wildcat to find the end zone for K-State in the game.

Vaughn also entered the K-State record books when he became the fastest in school history to achieve 2,000 all-purpose yards in his career. Vaughn reached the mark in just 17 games ahead of Tyler Lockett (18) and Darren Sproles (19).

“We came in at halftime and we didn’t flinch or bat an eye,” Klieman said. “We felt like we were the better team and had a chance to win the game. We just had to make some plays. It was a much-needed victory as we all know. We needed to find a way to go on the road and get a win. I’m happy for the guys. We can enjoy it today.”

Texas Tech went into halftime with a two-score lead, 24-10, before being shut out by the K-State defense in the second half.

“We started to play good team defense,” Klieman said, “which is what you have to do.”

Texas Tech quarterback Henry Columbi finished the game completing 10-17 of his passes for 148 yards and one interception to defensive back Russ Yeast.

The defense was only a third of K-State’s success as the comeback began in the third quarter of the game. The Wildcats came into the game with only 17 total points in the third quarter of all games so far this season. K-State scored nine points alone in the third quarter of this game.

The Wildcats capitalized on all three phases of the game, including extremely productive play from senior punter Ty Zentner, who pinned the Red Raiders deep in their own territory leading to the biggest play of the game — a Felix Anudike-Uzomah safety giving the Wildcats two points.

The safety from Anudike-Uzomah led to a Vaughn touchdown, cutting the lead down to 24-19 with the momentum now favoring the Wildcats.

“The safety made it 24-12 and gave us some life,” Klieman said, “and we were able to make some plays.”

Defensively, Anudike-Uzomah and sophomore defensive end Nate Matlack had the greatest impact on the game. Anudike-Uzomah finished with five tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss and a safety. Matlack had three tackles, two sacks, one tackle for loss and the game-winning tackle bringing down Columbi to finish off the Red Raiders on fourth down.

Eleven different Wildcats caught a pass from Thompson throughout the game with production coming from Landry Weber, Phillip Brooks and transfer wide receivers Kade Warner and Tyrone Howell.

K-State will return to Manhattan next Saturday to take on the TCU Horned Frogs at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPNU along with coverage from the K-State Sports Network and radio coverage from Wildcat 91.9.